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Report: Phil Catterall
Walk Date: August 2011/September 2013

My interest in Alfred Wainwright started when I saw the BBC Documentaries AW made with Eric Robson in the 1980s. I then forgot about AW until I attended the first presentation of “An Evening with Alfred Wainwright” by John Burland at the Ilkley Literary Festival in October 2009. This presentation also served as a recruitment event for The Wainwright Society and we were so taken by what we heard we joined the Society on the night. From this night in Ilkley followed the completion of Wainwrights Coast to Coast Walk in 2010 and then climbing the 214 Fells and 116 Outlying Fells from 2009 to 2012. As a radio ham I also made radio contacts from all the Wainwrights climbed on VHF for the “Wainwrights on the Air (WOTA)” award scheme. Along the way I came across the book, “Pennine Journey – the story of a Long Walk in 1938” by A Wainwright and found this to be a most interesting insight into the mind of the young accounts clerk from Blackburn.

After the C2C Judy, Geoff Fielding and I thought there was more mileage (please forgive the pun) in doing another long distance walk based on Wainwright’s walking career so we chose the Pennine Journey and purchased David Pitt’s excellent guidebook. Just to make the arrangements for accommodation and travel more complicated we invited members of Ryedale Walking Group to join us, and two (later to be three) did. This was Yvonne Beckwith (PJ Completer) and Jennie Marshall (3/4 PJ Completer).

We decided to split the route into sections of between three and five days each and stay at village inns, guest houses or farmhouse B&Bs along the way. This is why it took us just over two years to complete the 247 miles. We actually walked 265 miles due to the occasional navigational error on my part and the accommodation being off the specified route in the guidebook. I had strict instructions from the ladies in our group to limit each days walking to a moderate distance of between 7 and 14 miles. This limit was only breached on two days out of the twenty four walk days.

The logistics of shifting luggage fell to the Brigantes Baggage Courier Service – they never let us down. The transport we used to facilitate linear walking was car sharing, private car, taxi, train, public bus and landlords collecting us when the route was some distance away from their hostelries.

We met two famous people on our Pennine Journey. The first was Bill Bryson, author, who was staying in the same guest house in Hexham. The second was Stephen Gough, the Naked Rambler, who had the previous week been released from prison near Edinburgh! We met and we walked together chatting for some distance as we followed Hadrian’s Wall. The Naked Rambler got as far south as Hebden Bridge before being arrested on that walk, he was bailed on that occasion but the police arrested him again in Halifax. I imagine AW would have been disgusted by his presence had he met him!

The most enjoyable section of the walk for me was from Keld up to Hadrian’s Wall and then along the wall and then down from Greenhead to Garrigill. This was virgin territory for me – I have never walked those moors and valleys before and this is why I rate this as my favourite section.

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